1. To start 🏃🏻
We spend a good portion of our lives convincing ourselves not to do things. It's time to win that argument against your body. Sometimes all it takes is a single step in the right direction. Don’t worry about the end result, the outcome, or the finish line. Just start.
2. To slow down 🚶🏻
The above being said, we tend start out too fast out of the gates. Pump the brakes a little. Be patient and pace yourself.
3. To prepare for the long haul 😰
It was somewhere around mile 3 that it truly sunk in that I had over 20 miles left to run. It was mildly terrifying but you just try not to dwell on it.
4. To find your tribe 👨👩👦👦
My tribe was waiting for me at mile 4, amongst a roaring crowd and the rhythmic beating of Taiko drums. Watch closely as my mom runs through a live news broadcast to continue filming me. #dedication
5. To listen 👂🏼
Leave your headphones at home. There is no better audible motivation than the sound of a constant cheering section. Listen to the crowd and the other runners. Listen to your thoughts, your body, and your breath.
6. To be mindful 👤
Running can be a great meditative experience. When I run, the rest of the world grows quiet.
7. To be observant 👀
The streets of LA are actually pretty nice without cars.
8. To not think ahead 🤔
Try not to calculate what 8 / 26.2 is in your head. You're almost 1/3rd of the way there. Stop thinking so much and run.
9. To not touch anyone’s wheelchair without their permission ♿️
This one is more of a PSA.
Many wheelchair users in the marathon had rear-facing signs that read “PLEASE DO NOT OFFER TO PUSH ME”. Respect that person's personal space, which includes their chair. If a person in a wheelchair really needs your assistance, they will likely ask for it.
10. To be thankful 🙌🏾
It's a big world out there, and somehow on this day I'm able to run 26 miles across a city I love with 20,000 other people. That's pretty neat. Special shoutout to all the volunteers on the course who made the event possible.
11. To be comfortable with being uncomfortable 😬
This goes for cramps as well as with life in general. He or she who is willing to be the most uncomfortable will likely be the bravest.
12. To fuel up 🍩
Take advantage of the aid stations and all they have to offer. Small sips of Gatorade, oranges, and free Gu.
13. That the race doesn’t actually start until mile 13 🆒
I have always thought to myself that the real race doesn’t start until mile 13.
"Marathons are just 13 mile races except it's a 13 mile jog to get to the starting line." - Me
At mile 13, you should have enough saved in the bank to keep you going. If not, you're in for 13 miles of hurt.
14. To run your own race 🚦
It doesn’t matter that you just got passed by a guy without shoes. Or a dude covered head to toe in KinesioTape. You do you.
15. That LA traffic sucks 🚘
I’ve been stuck in traffic on this street before, and I'm going just about the same speed now as I was then.
16. To pretend everyone is cheering for you 👏🏾
Because let's be honest, you deserve it.
17. To dedicate a mile to someone 👊🏽
Preferably though do it around mile 12 or 13 so you don’t feel like you let the person down if you're hurting. This one, I remember, was for my friend Anthony.
18. To look for friendly faces along the way 😃
I will never forget the moment around mile 18 when I saw one of my friends holding up a sign that said “JAMES, YOU RUN FUNNY”. I burst out laughing, ran with them for a little, and then pushed on.
19. To train 🛤
Marathon training is no joke. I thought the training was more of a challenge than the actual race. You don't train for the first 18 miles, you train to survive the last 8. Get a good pair of shoes. Cross train with core and mobility work. Download Strava and use my Marathon Training Sheet.
20. To latch on to people 👥
Figuratively. Find a person that passes you, throw an imaginary lasso around their waist, and let them pull you forward. If you're competitive, pretend it's you against them. If you're not, pretend they are your teammate and you need to finish together.
21. To break through the wall ⬜️
“The Wall” is the emotional wave of pain, self-doubt, and/or sadness that inevitably plagues marathon runners after about 19-24 miles. Like any other barrier in life, you must learn to overcome it. I don’t remember exactly how I did, but it involved a lot of positive self-talk and visualization of the feeling you’ll have after the race. At this point, you have less of the road in front of you than you have behind you. Push through.
22. That no one succeeds alone 👬
Here is a video of my brother spraying me with IcyHot at the mile 22 Medical Tent. I credit that sweet, sweet spray and his subsequent pep talk for carrying me through at least 2 more miles. My friends and family were there to support me and I was so thankful for that.
23. To set goals 🏅
My goal for the LA marathon was to break 4 hours. I had my mile splits on a wristband for me to reference. The last few miles had been over a minute slower than what I needed to get. By the time I hit mile 23, I knew I had to turn it around.
24. To breathe 😤
My mom (below, left) attended every one of my cross country and track races growing up. And whenever I ran by during a race, she would always say one thing: “Breathe!”. Here, I actually needed this helpful instruction. Don’t ever forget to breathe.
25. To visualize 👁
During my training, I had run miles 21-26 of the LA marathon course about 20-30 times prior to the actual race. I knew that slight downhill section of San Vicente Blvd. and PCH like the back of my hand. I would visualize how it would feel to run that section of road on race day, with over 20 miles behind me and in immense amounts of pain. When the actual marathon came, I was ready.
26. To leave it all out there 😵
They don't actually show you the 26 mile marker. They just let you assume that it's there when you hear the roar of the finish-line crowd. When I looked down at my watch and saw 3:58, I knew I had to push. From my cross country days, I learned that you'll never be able to go back in time and change the outcome of a race. You have one attempt to do your absolute best, then you must forever hold your peace.
+0.2. To push your own limit 🏁
I never understood the phrase “Give 110%” until running the last 0.2 miles of a marathon. Push the limit of what you think is possible.
I finished the 2015 LA Marathon in 3:59:02. I had such a good experience that I ran marathons in 2016 and 2017 as well, and I hope to continue running one per year for as long as I can.
Don't listen to the voice that's holding you back. Sign up for a race.